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Phivolcs warns vs lahar flows

LEGAZPI CITY --- Huge volume of lahar deposited at the slopes of Mayon volcano could run downwards once moderate to heavy rains occur, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology disclosed.

This prompted Phivolcs to warn villagers living along river channels near the volcano’s slopes to be on alert for possible lahar and mudflows during heavy rains or stormy weather.

Ed Laguerta, Philvolcs resident volcanologist, said at least 21 million cubic meters of lahar and 6.2 million cubic meters of molten rocks and other volcanic debris were spewed by Mayon volcano during its eruptive behavior last year.

Laguerta expressed fear that rainfall of low magnitude could generate lahar flows stressing that heavy rain exceeding the maximum rainfall threshold could mobilize the lahar deposit.

“Torrential rains could move these deposits and breach tributaries that in effect could cause widespread mudflows in low lying areas at the foot of the volcano,” he said.

Areas prone to lahar flows are 26 villages in the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, Daraga, and Sto Domingo.

Meanwhile, Laguerta said three teams of Phivolcs scientists are conducting an inspection for the past two weeks at the volcano’s surrounding.

The study is aimed to monitor the volcano’s status based on the agency parameters such as gas and steam emission rate, quakes, crater glows and inflation or deflation of edifice.

Laguerta said the team would come out with the result by next week and recommend whether to lower the alert status of the volcano.

Phivolcs bulletin issued last weekend said the volcano's alert status remains at Alert Level 2 (moderate level of unrest).

The advisory warns the public to keep out of the 6-kilometer danger zone (PDZ) that may be dangerous to sudden explosions, lava collapses, and pyroclastic flows.

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